This morning when Eli and I were lying in bed (me to try to grab a few more minutes of quiet, Eli joining me to lovingly disturb said quiet moments), I tried to explain to him that this is the day we remember when Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. Eli honed in on donkey and immediately thought of Zach, the donkey. While visiting a horse stable with some friends, we met an old, handsome short little fella named Zach when Eli J crawled under an electric fence (lest you call DSS, I was holding a horse and the fence was very low voltage) unbeknownst to me to join him in his paddock (the Lord protected my little wild man; maybe Eli should be a professional limbo-er). The conversation went from Jesus’ life and burden to Eli’s strong desire to ride on a donkey himself in a nan0-second. At first, I was frustrated, but then I realized how fitting that was. Eli and I and the crowds who gathered around Jesus so many years ago are really no different. Left to ourselves, we see the world and all in it from the lens of self, our wants, our needs, our hopes.
As I was studying the account of Jesus approaching Jerusalem on a donkey (probably much like good old Zach) the Lord showed me that the people were praising Jesus and quoting from Psalm 118 when he was approaching in peace. The people knew He was the Messiah, the sent one, the one coming to save them. Thus, they shouted Hosanna! which means “Save us, now!” They were right to notice He was the long-awaited one and to praise Him as such. The problem was that their light and flippant praise did not take into consideration that His kingdom was a different one, not an immediate one to fulfill all their immediate expectations. Thus their praises faded and turned quickly into shouts of “Crucify him!” in a matter of days. We are not unlike them, Eli and I. Our praise quickly turns cold and bitter when our expectations are not met in our way, when His plan for our Best does not line up with our desires for what we think would be best.
As I thought about what it may have felt like for Jesus to ride in through the praises of the people He would willingly die for in a matter of days, I was blown away at His patience, His resolve, His quiet suffering. They cheered His approach with a light and airy joy, but He alone knew He was marching on to His death.
What kind of King?
As a King approaching in peace,
In humility He rode on,
Onlookers welcomed him, knowing
He brought a new dawn.
Though the Scriptures foretold it,
Yet none of them could see,
The new dawn would begin with
The God-Man hung on a tree.
Here was the Messiah marching
To bring His kingdom to bear,
Yet of the coronation of tears,
None but He was aware.
“Hosanna! Save us now!” they cried,
As hopes and palms were raised.
“Finally the kingdom’s come,
May Jesus’ name be praised!”
Jesus tuned out the hysteric cries,
For He knew the heart of a man,
From “Crown Him” to “Crucify,”
The voices would be raised again.
They’d no idea what they were saying,
As they joyfully recited the psalm,
“Bind the sacrifice to the altar,”
But Jesus heard the bitter balm.
No cords would be needed,
The lamb was gently being led,
With full awareness and submission,
In a week, the King would be dead.
Yet with a tender fierceness,
The King approached the throne,
Knowing the crowds would leave him,
Knowing that He’d die alone.
With light palms they danced
Around this coming King,
Not knowing the weight He felt,
The heaviness this week would bring.
Yet with the peace of a true King,
He marched on towards the hill,
For the Joy that was set before Him,
For the curse He’d silence and still.
What kind of King is this?
Who is this that we serve?
The King who died to bring us
The Kingdom we don’t deserve.